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Public Statements

Hearing of the House International Relations Committee - United States Security Policy in Afghanistan on the Eve of National Elections

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service September 23, 2004 Thursday

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE SUBJECT: UNITED STATES SECURITY POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN ON THE EVE OF NATIONAL ELECTIONS

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE HENRY J. HYDE (R-IL)

WITNESSES:

PETER W. RODMAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE;

ROBERT B. CHARLES, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE; LIEUTENANT GENERAL WALTER L. SHARP, DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC PLANS AND POLICY, J-5, THE JOINT STAFF

BODY:

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank all three of our distinguished witnesses for their service and for their very fine testimony today.

I do have a couple of questions with regards to the issue of human trafficking. As you know, the country of Afghanistan is a Tier 2 country. That is to say when the State Department trafficking persons office looked at it, it was found to be having a very serious trafficking problem in human persons, but was making substantial efforts to mitigate that problem. But the report makes the point that there's a lack of resources being dedicated to this fight. And I wonder if any one of you would like to take a stab at, you know, your take on the scope, the nature of the trafficking problem.

We know that Afghanistan is a source and transiting country, and most recently-or at least within a year or so-about 219 Afghanistani children were repatriated from Saudi Arabia. So there are some good things happening, but the bottom line is lack of resources are hindering the ability to really provide protection for these children and mostly women who are trafficked.

Mr. Charles, on the issue of policing-and I was encouraged by your numbers about working towards 12,000 border police and the like. Does the training include how to spot traffickers, how to spot and hopefully rescue those who are victims. I would just point out for the record that the Bush administration has initiated a very robust effort domestically called Rescue and Restore, working with local police departments, local attorneys, including the U.S. attorney, faith-based charities, like Catholic Relief Services. Recently there was one held in Newark. The president himself traveled down to Tampa to roll out. And they're happening all over the country and they will continue to happen.

And one of the Achilles' heels that we have domestically and internationally is police. Whether or not they're adequately trained to spot a traffic person or to dismiss that person and they go right on through the victimization, and also a sense that we need to reign in on this. So if you could speak to the police training. Is there a package available?

Yesterday I co-chaired a hearing with Chairman Hunter of the Armed Services Committee. I chaired the Helsinki Commission on what our military is doing, and it is doing an exemplary job in the area of trafficking. General LaPorte is supreme commander in Korea, was one of our witnesses. Deputy Undersecretary Abell also testified, John Miller, our ambassador for the trafficking persons office. And Joseph Schmitz, who's done some landmark work as IG on trafficking.

And the good news is that we do have prototypes. There is a very good plan for trying to help identify the women. As General LaPorte pointed out, you could easily miss a trafficked woman. It's very, very easy to miss. But when you're sensitized, the police are trained adequately, it makes all the difference in the world. Is that included in our training package? If you could respond.

MR. CHARLES: Yes, sir, it is. And let me, again, elaborate a little bit. You are absolutely right. I talk with Ambassador Miller regularly about this. If you had him here instead of me, he'd say the exact same thing. It is a heartbreaking area to work in. Drugs are a tough area and all of the human rights violations. But this one is particularly egregious. And it's also absolutely true and part of the training that you can pick these people out when they come across the border. If you see someone traveling with young girls, there's some clear signals and you can go straight to it and stop it.

And, in fact, we have some anecdotal evidence-and I'd be happy to give it back to you in more detail-that this is actually working. Now, this is an embryonic police force. Large in numbers but no doubt in need of retraining and constant retraining. And I think with the border police you're going to have even a ramped up effort addressing that. But I guess the short answer to your question is, yes, it's a priority. It is not being in any way diminished. And, in fact, I would say it's gaining in its significance as far as the State Department is concerned.

REP. SMITH: Before going onto the second question, if I could, Mr. Chairman, in terms of the resources focus, because the TIP report did focus on that. What about the other military or police trainers? Again, we have had hearings on contract police, including UNMIK, and at least eight-according to some witnesses, individuals who were trained were actually part of the problem. Here we have police people in the Balkans who are supposed to be assisting and providing rule of law and enforcement of law, and they're actually part of the trafficking of women into forced prostitution. Do the Germans and the others also have a package? I mean, is there an integration of best practices so that the trainers and the police who get that training are doing their best job with what is available? Because there are some very good teaching aids on this.

MR. CHARLES: Yes, sir. Let me say first, for both the basic police and the border police, the TIP training is provided. And what I can do is get you details on the curriculum if you're actually in seeing what they are teaching.

REP. SMITH: I would very much like that.

MR. CHARLES: The second thing is your point about the contractors is right on the money. I have been extremely tough on contractors in a lot of ways. And one of them is, from the minute we got here, we said there's going to be pre-deployment training so that you will make it crystal clear what's permissible and what is not permissible in the field. And that is done with every contractor who goes into that country when they're working in our programs.

REP. SMITH: Thank you.

REP. HYDE: Shelley Berkley.

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